Tuesday, July 26, 2016

An improved jazz deja vu

John Allmark
One of the great bonuses from returning to Rhode Island for the Newport Jazz Festival each summer is a chance to hear trumpeter John Allmark's extraordinary big band, The John Allmark Jazz Orchestra. For 16 years and counting, Allmark has kept Little Rhody's big band tradition alive - a tradition that began 49 years ago with the Duke Belaire Band. (It's just one year shy of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra's golden Monday night run that began as the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra,)

This was my first opportunity to hear the band in its new home, The Met, a live music emporium in Pawtucket. The prior home, Bovi's Town Tavern, closed in late 2015. It had hosted big-band jazz on Monday nights for 48 years.
Jerry Vejmola solos

Bill Vint
The new venue is larger, feels much roomier, and has top-notch sound and lighting systems. In my view, those compensate for the coziness that Bovi's afforded the band and its loyal fans.

During last night's opening set, the wide-ranging repertoire included a bit of Ellington and Strayhorn, some Freddie Hubbard material and a few other gems. My clear favorite was the band's lush take on trumpeter Tom Harrell's gorgeous composition, "Sail Away." 
Bob Bowlby

Vinny Pagano
Lucky me. I get to go back the next two Mondays to hear this blend of some of Southern New England's finest jazz players.

Enjoy these visual souvenirs from the evening. 


The John Allmark Jazz Orchestra

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